White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

NAME OF THE PROPOSED ACTION: Environmental Assessment – Salinas Peak Power Distribution Line Replacement – White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED ACTION: White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) proposes to construct (where needed), repair, operate, and maintain a 14.4 kilovolt (kV)/24.9 kV three-phase distribution line connecting facilities at Salinas Peak to a Sierra Electric Cooperative supply line near the base of the mountain.

PURPOSE AND NEED: The purpose of the Proposed Action is to provide stable and reliable power to buildings and equipment critical to military operations, reduce safety risk associated with maintenance of the utility, and improve resiliency to extreme weather events on Salinas Peak. The Proposed Action is needed because the infrastructure is aging, is susceptible to being damaged from extreme weather events, and lacks resiliency.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES: Cultural and natural resources, soils, human health and safety, socioeconomics, and cumulative effects were evaluated, while evaluation of other valued environmental components was incorporated by reference. The proposed activities would influence soils with a potential increase of erosion. Salinas Peak is a traditional cultural property and has Cold War era significance. Several sensitive biological elements are in the area.

CONCLUSION: Alternative 2 – Western Route is the preferred alternative. This alternative would move the existing distribution line to a western route and would eventually discontinue use and remove associated infrastructure along the eastern route. Based on the analysis in this EA and consideration of the mitigation measures listed in Section 3.6, and in accordance with the guidelines for determining the significance of proposed federal actions (32 CFR §651 [2002]; 40 CFR §1508.27) and Environmental Protection Agency criteria for initiating an Environmental Impact Statement (40 CFR §6.207), WSMR has concluded that the campground expansion described in the Preferred Alternative will not result in a significant effect on the environment. Mitigation measures include conducting surveys for bird nests if vegetation removal is to occur during the migratory bird nesting season, following the WSMR Avian Protection Plan, replacement of creosote-treated wood poles with steel poles that contain fewer hazardous components that can leach into soils, use of suspension insulators to increase space between phased conductors to protect raptors that may land on the structures, and placement of poles and guy wire anchors in existing holes or previously disturbed ground to reduce new ground disturbance. Applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations would be followed. WSMR has determined that an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act is not required, and this Finding of No Significant Impact is hereby submitted.

DRAFT AVAILABILITY AND POINTS OF CONTACT: White Sands Missile Range invites members of the public to comment on the draft EA. The draft EA and FNSI are available digitally at
Hard copies are available to the public by sending a request using the contact information below, or at the following public repositories.
• Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho Ave., Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001
• White Sands Missile Range Post Library, Building 465, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 88002
• Alamogordo Public Library, 920 Oregon Ave., Alamogordo, NM 88310
• Socorro Public Library, 401 Park St. Socorro, NM 87801

Written comments concerning the draft EA should be directed to the White Sands Missile Range Garrison Environmental Division. The publication of this notice serves as the start of the 30-day comment period. All comments must be received no later than 30 September 2023 to the following address, e-mail or fax.

U.S. Army Garrison White Sands
Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division
Attn: Salinas Peak Distribution Line Replacement
Building 163
White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 88002
Email: [email protected]
Fax: (575) 678-2048

Published in the El Defensor Chieftain on August 31, 2023